Are You Game Enough?

I remember a time when the decisions I made were overshadowed by what other people thought of them, when what I believed in was conveniently put away in order to make way for something else, when the things that were in my priority list took a back seat as they definitely weren’t an urgent concern for the authority. 
Pakistan’s Independence Day, as cliche as it sounds, is  just another day for the entire human population. But mention it to a Pakistani and he would tell you at great lengths how the importance of the rest of the calendar pales in comparison to the date. For Pakistanis, it is a day when all the divisions and the differences between people are set aside (and that’s saying something!) so that all of them can come together to celebrate – independence. However, that is easier written about than witnessed.
Sure, today is hardly a time when Pakistan can expect to receive a gold star for its performance by the world at large. Everyone continues to regard it as a failing state while magazines upon magazines publish articles talking about how Pakistan is a danger and a parasite. People talk about leaving Pakistan on a daily basis and it is thought that the country has bit on things more than it can chew. It is hurtful to hear such things about your country but that’s not enough to stop the practice.
However, Pakistan has given its people the freedom to be – the way they are. The way they probably won’t be accepted as openly in other parts of the world. Without succumbing to slavery and mockery. The very being of the country has allowed the people to respect and preserve their culture. It has been a motherland to billions of Pakistanis who would be clueless and without identities if it were not for the existence of Pakistan. The people here don’t wake up thinking that they have to be someone they are not in order to progress. They can feel at home while cheering for their cricket team, eat the food they like at a meagre cost, dressing and talking in a way that defines them.

And that feeling is what you get when you know you are independent. For me, it was a matter of giving a few interviews and getting a job. And the days where I had to ask before making decisions about my own life were over. I was free. To do what I wanted and to make the mistakes that I was destined to make. And all that didn’t make me less successful a human being. But it made me who I am today. Very much myself in my own right.

However, for Pakistan getting here took a war and then a lot of other ones. It had to constantly remind the world of what it stood for and the reason for its being. It had to repeatedly prove its mettle only to be recognized as a dot on the world map. People on both sides of the border sacrificed more than just money because they believed in the existence of Pakistan. Because they believed in freedom.
If it was an ideal world I would say that today that’s all Pakistan needs. A strong belief in the country and what it stands for. But by doing that I will be sugar coating things and grossly misrepresenting the picture that Pakistan presents. Today, it takes more courage to take pride in Pakistan than it takes to fight a war. The failings of the country have been magnified and highlighted and magnified and highlighted for the entire world to see. Even a penguin living in a totally different time zone can tell what’s wrong with Pakistan.
But it’s only the Pakistanis that can tell the world what is right. Today, Pakistan needs much more than just mere belief and faith. It needs actions and results. It needs a strategy and effective implementation. It needs, nay it deserves nothing less than anything hardcore. We as a nation need to celebrate the independence of Pakistan and not the fact that it continues to survive despite its failings. What we as the youth of Pakistan need to realize is that the party is over and the work has just begun.

So on this independence day, ask yourself this: Are you game enough to be a Pakistani?


Overheard at Social Media Mela


“Our national obsession is getting settled” – Sanjay Rajoura, Indian stand up comedian

“We like to think everyone who matters is on Twitter” – Mighty Obvious

“People use Twitter to get to home, not to find out how much crime is happening.” – Norbert Almedia. Pakistani instructor

“What was the question? I’m completely lost” – Mohammad Hanif, Pakistani author

“Yehi hota hai Twitter pe.” Karuna John, Indian Associate Editor

“If people don’t take you seriously, maybe there’s no room for you in this side of space.” – Mighty Obvious

“Most writers make the mistake of writing about themselves in their first book. Not everyone is interested” – Annie Zaidi, Journalist

“There are some really scary opinions on Twitter. Two days ago I woke up and Jinnah was trending.” Mohammad Hanif, Pakistani author

“If you want to write about yourself, make a blog and wait for somebody to read it” Jugal Mody, Indian author

“Foreigner Tourist: Is that a cow?

Sanjay Rajoura: Meray ko to gayay hi dikh rahi hai, tujhe kya dikh rahi hai?”

“Citizen Journalists? Next thing you know we will be having citizen brain specialists! How far is this going to go?” Mohammad Hanif.

Faizan Lakhani, Reporter on releasing news before his TV channel “My employers asked me – salaray hum detay hain ya Twitter?”

“I came to Twitter for a one night stand, then I fell in love with it. Now, Twitter and I are getting married” Karuna John

Mohsin Siddiqui “If you have columnists why do you have blogs?” Bilal Lakhani, Express Tribune “We dont’ pay our bloggers.”

“Is mulk main… Apni mulk ki baat kar raha hun. Kuch ho na ho, settle sab hojatay hain. Har ghar main ek daadi hoti hain jo potay ki shakal dekhay bina marti nahi hai” Sanjay Rajoura


A Pakistani? Say What?

Picture this: An early morning class. A bunch of sleepyheads sitting all around. And a teacher – a teacher talking about national identity.  No it had nothing to do with identifying the various languages and the dress codes of the number of provinces we have now nor was it as cruel as it sounds. But, let me tell you what jolted me into wakefulness.

It was an ad. An advertisement that had Aamir Khan (the Indian actor) talking about how it’s necessary to take pride in being an Indian. The most amazing part? The advertisement wasn’t sponsored by the tourism industry. It was just something that an individual and a group of like-minded people had decided to do in order to take action and fix something that was wrong in their part of the world and that clearly got everyone thinking. For once, it served as an example of something we as Pakistanis can do to bring about a change. A practical example and not just talk.

And then, the inevitable happened. We as a class were asked to visualize or think of an ad that would best portray our national identity. That would portray something which will make people go like “Aha! Now that’s an average Pakistani!” And all the examples of ads that we had just seen a minute ago of countries from China to Australia, ads that spoke of having hard working people to ads that spoke of having breathtaking beaches vaporized into thin air. That wasn’t Pakistan. How the world sees the country is not Pakistan.

An average Pakistani is a person who has everything going wrong for him. From the school he goes to, to the health care  he receives, from the traffic rules that are meant to be broken to the electricity that flickers every once in a while and yet, he makes it through the day. Every day. He survives till it’s not possible for him to. And the personal struggle of everyone in the country and how he makes it against all odds and difficulties is who an average Pakistani is.

But who wants this on an ad that wants to brand a nation? Who wants people surviving despite the chaos they have to face as a daily ritual? Who wants their children to see the ad that looks at such a gloomy picture? The answer to this is who cares? Who cares if it’s not right for everyone else? The difficult part, the part where hardships abound, resources are few and chaos is rife is the part that unites all of us as Pakistanis.

If there’s no scenic beauty of the beach and swaying trees that unite us then let it be the struggle that brings us together. The rich or the poor. The Baloch or the Punjabis. The Muslims or the Non-Muslims. It is how everyone has come where they have come and how they are doing with whatever little they have. While it’s sad that living in Pakistan is a struggle, it’s the truth. And it’s time we not be ashamed of that! Or else, how are we going to move on to the part where we get to brag about all the awesomeness?

Published in Blogs and The News